Columbia University’s Urban Works Innovation Challenge for Startups in India

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Urban Works Innovation Challenge

Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai announces the launch of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2019-2020 for transforming India’s cities into safe and sustainable places through technical innovation. The challenge, which is part of a three-year program inaugurated in 2018 and supported by the RMZ Foundation, gives young innovators a globally competitive opportunity to receive mentorship from faculty and alumni of Columbia University’s prestigious Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as from distinguished entrepreneurs and academics in India. Winning teams can also avail of unrestricted capital from a total annual fund of Rs. 1.2 crores, and peer networks and infrastructural support from a tech-first collaborative workspace at The CoWrks Foundry for a six month period.

Speaking about the inspiration behind this initiative, Patricia J. Culligan, Professor of Civil Engineering at Columbia University, noted, “There is a huge opportunity in this country to harness the imagination, invigoration, and forward-looking vision of the youth in India to think about how Indian cities can be at the foundation of a global economy that advances human development.

Almost 600 million Indians will live in cities by 2030. Rapid urbanization poses serious environmental and societal challenges, including degrading air quality, rising plastic waste, hindered mobility, mental health problems, and reduced safety for women. In this evolving landscape, there is growing recognition that the country’s urban workforce requires workplaces and city-wide ecosystems to become more productive, innovative, and inclusive. According to Dr. Ravina Aggarwal, Director of Columbia’s Mumbai Center, “Solutions that make use of contemporary technology can play a critical role in addressing these needs, thereby making our cities and work environments sustainable and safe for all.” 

The 2019-2020 challenge will support tech-based solutions to transform 21st-century cities into sustainable and safe work environments that span diverse industries and socio-economic geographies. Broad areas for solution development include green technologies, decentralized energy-efficient solutions, sustainable resource use, waste management, accessibility, health and wellbeing, and gender security. 

The innovation challenge is open to applications till November 15, 2019 from startups, professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners intent on designing the future of Indian cities and improving urban work environments. Teams with successful design prototypes will have the opportunity to pitch their design to leading corporations and investors.

Our engagement with Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai and Columbia Engineering was formed with the vision of seeking out and empowering the most incredible minds doing deeply intentional and well-researched work into solving these problems at a global scale,” remarked Nruthya Madappa, Managing Partner of The CoWrks Foundry.

For more details, please visit: globalcenters.columbia.edu/urbanworks.

About Columbia Engineering:- Columbia Engineering, based in New York City, is one of the top engineering schools in the U.S. and one of the oldest in the nation. Also known as The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School expands knowledge and advances technology through the pioneering research of its more than 250 faculty, while educating undergraduate and graduate students in a collaborative environment to become leaders informed by a firm foundation in engineering. The School’s faculty is at the center of the University’s cross-disciplinary research, contributing to the Data Science Institute, Earth Institute, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Columbia Nano Initiative. Guided by its strategic vision, “Columbia Engineering for Humanity”, the School aims to translate ideas into innovations that foster a sustainable, healthy, secure, connected, and creative humanity.

About Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai:- Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai is one of Columbia University’s nine global centers that serves as a research, education, and knowledge hub for promoting new and informed ways of addressing global challenges. The Center conducts innovative and inter-disciplinary research, designs educational opportunities for students and professionals, and disseminates research to wider publics in academia, government, civil society, and the private sector. By connecting the University’s world-class scholars and students with peers from the region, the Mumbai Center works to deepen knowledge that can transform society.

About The CoWrks Foundry:- The CoWrks Foundry is an acceleration program for early stage businesses within three verticals, namely; Urban Tech, Enterprise Tech and Social Enterprise. The program was built to enable Indian entrepreneurs to build innovative and scalable solutions that are capable of surviving in a global ecosystem. Through a carefully curated curriculum and strong post-program support, The Foundry provides entrepreneurs with frameworks, tailored mentorship, intelligent capital and a deep network to build resilient technology companies.